The First Step

Odds are, if you’re reading this, than this post probably isn’t essential reading for you.

Great opening line, right?

I know my audience, so I am just making an educated guess. However, many of the people that are inclined to read the things I write here know people that could use this and if this reaches just one of those people, it will be worth it.

Alright, there we go. Everyone else is gone. It’s just you and me now. You decided you’d stick around to read whatever crazy radical left point-of-view because we are all kind of addicted to the stuff that makes us mad on the internet.

I’m glad you’re here. Let’s rip off the band-aid.

You have privilege. You were born with it. I know, I know, it stings… breathe, it will get better.

Very few know more privilege than I do. I’m a white, upper-middle class, college educated (paid for by my father… who is a doctor), male in the United States of America.

And since you’re here the odds are extremely high that you have checked some of those same boxes.

Wait! Wait! Wait!

Don’t go.

Having this mirror held up to your face is uncomfortable, I know it is for me. It makes you feel like you should have done more. I know that I do, daily. In no way am I saying that you didn’t struggle at some point or at many points throughout.

I do not doubt that you have overcome obstacles and hardships in your life. I don’t doubt that you have had disadvantages. I don’t doubt that you could easily prove that my life has been vastly easier than yours.

Have a seat with me. Let’s play some cards.

If it were a game of Texas Hold Em, I’d have pocket kings, suited and you’d have jacks, also suited. I’ve definitely got the upper hand, but you could be crafty and beat me. Hell, you wouldn’t even need to be crafty, just a slight bit of luck and you are taking me down.

And if everybody else at the table were white, they’d all be dealt solid hands and we’d all have a good time beating each other here or there and watch the money flow around the table.

Now, imagine that at the empty seat a black person sits down. All night, they are going to be dealt 2-7 off suit. They can still win, but it is going to be a long, difficult grind for them to get there. Unfortunately, the odds tell us, they are going to lose and after a long night of getting terrible cards they will be furious. They are going to yell and point out that the deck was stacked in our favor.

They might even get so mad that they flip the entire table over. Breaking the table, scattering our chips on the floor, mixing them up so that you and I lose some of the money we had won, fairly, by playing the same game at the same table.

This is where we are now in our country.

We don’t get to be mad because our table is broken, the cards are scattered, and we lost a bit of money.

We were playing the same game, yes, but we didn’t choose our table. We were placed here, just like they were.

Our job right now is to talk to the dealer. Tell the security guard to stop roughing the other guy up. Talk to the pit boss. Talk to the manager. Scream up at the owner’s penthouse, and demand to know what they are going to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

This is how we move forward as a country. We need to call everybody that we come across on their bullshit.

Nothing is going to change quickly. It is going to take a long time to deconstruct something that has been built over centuries.

Right now we are at a fork in the road. One direction is the same way we have always gone, it’s paved, well lit, and safe (for us). But, maybe if the things I have written make any kind of sense, you have already taken a step toward the other path by simply acknowledging your privilege.

As you look up from your shoes, the new path looks dark and overgrown.

The good news is, you won’t be alone. We can all do it together.

We are probably going to zig-zag all over the place trying to get through the thorny branches, but together we will get through. And when our children encounter this same fork in the road the path will be clear and they’ll have a chance to pave it.

2020 is clearly going to be a year that history books will have to reserve chapters for, let’s all take the path to be on the right side of that history.

Cheers.

An Open Letter to My Son

Dear Jude,

I write this letter with a heavy heart. Last night, Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States. You, of course, slept peacefully as the results came in across the country, incapable of understanding what was taking place.

This morning, you woke up smiling as I pulled you from your crib. Blissfully ignorant to the divide in our country. I have never been so jealous.

Despite telling myself that I need to stay off of social media, I could not help myself. Reactions of people all over the world range from shock and fear to elation and pride.

I started  on the shock and fear side.

See, for me, this election was about so much more than Republican versus Democrat. Conservative versus Liberal. Right versus Left.

With you in my life, this is the first election where I felt the pressure of your generation weighing down on me. I had an honest concern for the world that you will grow up in. It is not because of conservative policy or what is best for our country’s economy. It is not about trade agreements and foreign policy.

It is something far more simple and basic.

I don’t want you to grow up thinking that there are human beings that are worth less than others. I don’t want you to think Muslim = Terrorist. Black = Criminal. Woman = Object. Gay = Wrong.

What happened here is that people got sick of “the establishment” and the status quo. They wanted an outsider that wasn’t a politician (although, I would argue that when one runs for political office they then inherently become a politician). These people put their blinders on to the xenophobic, racist, bigoted, and misogynistic ideals that Mr. Trump stands for.

Let me be clear, a vote for Donald Trump does not mean that those people share the same views of other human beings (some of them do). But, they did choose to ignore those views.

Only time will tell if that ends up being worse than sharing those views.

I woke up with fear but that subsided quickly. For one simple reason.

No matter how bad things may seem, there is always love. When people attempt to spew hate, spread more love. Love will always win.

So, I promise you this today.

I will not allow the hate that exists today in.

Together, we will move forward.

I will teach you to love and respect all people regardless of their religion.

I will teach you that love is love, whether it is straight, gay or lesbian.

I will teach you that you respect the women in your life. No exceptions.

I will teach you that what a woman does with her body is her business. No exceptions.

I will teach you that even though people have different ideas on how our country will be run best (even if those ideas cause them to vote for a person such as Mr. Trump) that you respect and love them.

We will move forward. We will fight to ensure our country is not set back. We will create a bright future for you. And, I will rest easy knowing that you understand that hate and fear mongering are no way to get ahead.

I only hope that when you are old enough to read this that irreparable damage has not been done. Because even if Mr. Trump’s policies mean good things for the economy, it will be worthless if there are people who are marginalized, oppressed, or discriminated against.

We will continue to fight to make sure that doesn’t happen.

With Love,

Your Father

Cheers.

 

Seventeen Years

Seventeen years ago, today, I asked my wife to “go out with me.”

Today is also my birthday (thanks for remembering).

Here’s the thing. When I was younger and birthdays still kind of mattered, it always irritated me that our “anniversary” fell on my birthday. I am not proud of having felt this way and I regret the years that I didn’t mention it or buy something for my girlfriend.

Now, the “anniversary” is less important, so to speak, since our wedding anniversary falls on a completely different day. But, as I have grown up and we have continued our life together, my birthday has gained significance for me again.

This year seems especially important since we now have an amazing child together.

I don’t think that my fifteen-year-old self could have ever imagined what life would be like seventeen years later. In fact, I am pretty sure my fifteen-year-old self never thought about much more than 5 minutes in the future. But, I sure would like to travel back in time and give him a hug for having the courage to whisper, “will you go out with me?” in my wife’s ear.

We all have moments in our life that we look back on with regret. I know I have lots of them and, lately, they seem to be clouding my brain in a fog of negativity. Humans tend to focus on the negatives and the missed shots in their life.

Today, I get to celebrate the best shot that I took and made.

Nothing but net.

Little did I know standing in the hallway of Franklin Junior High that I was making the best choice of my entire life. Which is obvious by my countless attempts to mess it up over the years that would follow.

For some reason, my wife stuck with me through the bad times and now I am able to reflect on the woman that my wife has become. It has been nothing short of amazing.

It has been nothing short of amazing.

See, I have remained relatively the same. Aside from some disgusting weight fluctuations, I remain the remarkably average guy that I have always been. There isn’t all that much that is impressive about me. I have the same sense of humor that I did when I was fifteen. I remain relatively average in most other facets of my life.

Except for my wife and son.

Over the past seventeen years, my wife has turned into a woman. Dare I say, a sexy woman.

When I look at it now, in hindsight, it is awe inspiring and beautiful.

Professionally, she is a force. A strong, confident woman that gets things done. Everyone that works for her loves her. I am astounded by her drive daily.

As a mother, she is nothing short of incredible. She is attentive, patient, and loving every minute of the day. Even when she is covered with spit up at five in the morning, she seems to appreciate the moment and enjoy it. Even when she is exhausted and her nerves are fried due to a lack of sleep, you wouldn’t know it when she is interacting with our son.

Finally, as a wife. Well, there aren’t enough superlatives to describe what she means to me. Day in and day out, she loves me despite my many flaws. She is the reason I am the man that I am today. She is the reason that I smile when things seem to be going bad. She is the reason that I am able to get out of bed every day.

So, if you have made it this far, what’s the point?

First, I just feel like everyone should know that I have an amazing wife.

But, more importantly, I know that I am not alone in having a moment in my life that I can look on and point at as a time where my life changed for the better.

Rather than focusing on the things that did not go as planned. Focus on the time they went perfect and be grateful for that moment.

I know that today when I look at my wonderful wife and son, I will be.

Cheers.

Unsolicited Advice

When I was engaged my least favorite part was the unsolicited advice and terrible jokes.

“Your life will be over the minute you get married.”

“You will never have freedom again.”

“Just remember… happy wife, happy life.”

“Happiest day of my life is when I got divorced.”

On and on it went with these bits of wisdom from people I wouldn’t consult with on what type of toilet paper to use.

These people think they are being funny and creative.

Wrong.

They think they are dropping golden pieces of wisdom that will help make a happy relationship.

Nope.

If you are one of these people, stop. Don’t do it. If people want relationship advice from you, they will ask. And, if they don’t ask? Well, there is probably a reason that they aren’t asking you…

I get it, it is a bit of hazing as you enter a new club that so many before have joined. But, it is akin to pulling up next to someone at a stop light and saying, “I see you’ve got a car there. Let me tell ya, if you want it to keep running, you should be sure to put gas in it.”

After getting married, all that stopped, it was such a relief. The reprieve was short-lived as a new group of personal life invaders appeared.

“Soooo, when are you going to have children?!”

Guess what? Whether a couple is going to have children is none of your business.

If you do this, stop. Don’t do it.

This is as inappropriate as asking someone, “what do you and your spouse like sexually? Please, be as descriptive and specific as possible.”

Maybe they aren’t ready. We are in the 21st century and people do not always procreate immediately.

Maybe they are trying but are having trouble that is putting stress on their relationship that you couldn’t possibly understand.

Maybe they never want to have kids and don’t want to see the stupid, confused look on your face when they tell you this.

Slowly, this tide of people does retreat back to sea (with the marriage advice dopes) as people start to assume that you just won’t have kids for some reason or another. Which they love just as much. Why? Because then they tell other people on your behalf that you are not having children.

Seriously, I thought the personal life invaders had left but, alas, I was sorely mistaken. I have encountered what seems to be the worst yet.

Pregnancy, birth and parenting advice givers.

I get it you have had one child or more and now you are an expert. You have the wisdom to impart that I must hear lest my child peril due to my lack of knowledge. You have come to my aid in the nick of time, Super Douche.

I’ll take my chances but… thanks.

“Has your wife been really moody and eating weird things? Because my wife was a total bitch when she was pregnant.”

Well, what a lovely way to talk about the mother of your child. While she was going through one of the most difficult life experiences that a human can encounter, your thought was “what a bitch?”

What is the endgame here? You want me to tell you that my wife is not in the best of moods and that will somehow make you feel better?

“You don’t understand how expensive children are.”

There is no way you can escape this comment. It is always stated as if it is the biggest revelation in the history of mankind.

It isn’t.

Obviously, children are expensive. Thank you for being the John Madden of my life stating the obvious. Thank you for stating this and not following up with any helpful advice or tips on how to reduce costs. You have either learned none, or, you are a sadist that is looking forward to watching parents fail financially. Which is it?

And, finally, we come full circle back to the moron that was giving imparting wisdom before marriage. He has since had a child and would like you to know…

“Your life will be over the minute your baby is born.”

“Live it up now because once you have a kid, you’ll never have fun again.”

How terrible is your life? These are the same people that long for the days of high school when they felt like the popular kids.

I didn’t make the decision to have a child without considering what life would be like afterward. Of course, I will have less time to go out to bars and do the things I have done for the past decade. I will now have a human life that is depending on me to be responsible and make sound decisions…

Oh dear god, what have I done?

Unlike these people, I am happiest when spending time with my wife and now there will be a child that is joining us. I can’t think of anything that I would want more than that.

So, what’s the point?

The point is: mind your business when you encounter people in any of these stages of their life. What is coming next is exciting and terrifying for them. They do not need your weak attempts at humor and life advice.

Stop telling people horror stories because you are insecure about your perceived failures or shortcomings as a spouse and/or parent.

However, if you must give your unsolicited advice. Talk about the good stuff.

Talk about how amazing it is to start a life with someone that you are crazy about.

Because it is amazing.

Talk about how wonderful the time spent as a couple without kids is.

Because it is wonderful.

Talk about what an unbelievable blessing it is to have a child.

Because it is…. well, I don’t know about this part yet. But, I believe it will be. Even though the personal life invaders have tried to convince me otherwise.

I have decided these people are the same as the people that give a one-star product review on Amazon because they couldn’t figure out how to correctly put the batteries in their new label maker.

I want my own experience with being a parent. It will be nothing like yours. I am going to make a million mistakes that other people will roll their eyes at.

That is my decision. It has nothing to do with you. Soon, you will move on to the next expecting parent within arms reach and “help” them.

I guess we will meet again when you need to fill me in on the proper way to retire and die…

Until then.

Cheers.

 

 

 

No You’re Not

“No you’re not…”

In a flash, my life changed. An entire new list of worries and responsibilities appeared as if out of thin air. The countdown has started. I finally will be forced to become an adult.

My wife is pregnant. Oh my god, my wife is pregnant. 

While it was a surprise, it wasn’t completely a surprise. We had been “trying”. I knew quite well that this would happen sooner than later. But, I thought it would be later.

I just don’t know if I’m ready.

To be clear, it’s not that I didn’t know if I was ready to be a father. I am (well, as much as can be).

As I stood in my kitchen holding my wife moments after she told me the big news, a flood of memories clouded my brain.

The realization hit me like a freight train.

I don’t want to say goodbye to this way of life. Continue reading